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Duncan Basheer Hannon

- 10 Nov 2017
  • Workplace Relations

  • Personal Injury

The difference between having a psychiatric injury and being stressed – for the purposes of your legal claim

hand writing on paper with a pen

Different personal injury claims require a firmer diagnosis than others.

Personal injury claims for psychiatric injuries are not new.

These claims are nearly as prevalent as claims for physical injuries, particularly in areas like workers compensation, child sexual abuse claims, motor vehicle accidents, and personal injury claims of many other types.

Psychiatric Assessment

In most cases, a medical assessment and report by a psychiatrist will be required to successfully pursue a claim.

The psychiatrists often diagnose an injury under the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly known as the DSM. The DSM sets out guidelines/criteria for which particular psychiatric injuries are to be diagnosed.

Common psychiatric injuries that are diagnosed in this way include significant injuries such as:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

More minor psychiatric injuries, such as Adjustment Disorder, are also diagnosed in this way.

Some assessments of psychiatric injuries are based on what is called a GEPIC assessment, or a Guide to the Evaluation of Psychiatric Impairment for Clinicians assessment. Either are valid forms of assessment.

However, neither form of assessment recognises stress only.

Stress itself may be like a symptom of a psychiatric injury, in the way that back pain is a symptom of a back injury, or it may purely be a reaction to ordinary stressors such as work or family commitments.

Consequently, a claim for something like stress and inconvenience itself is quite rare. However a claim for stress and inconvenience is available in some limited circumstances, such as in the case of home flooding, where the negligence of another party has caused the stress and inconvenience.

Nevertheless, a psychiatric injury is required for the majority of personal injury actions, and mere stress is not enough.

If you think you may wish to pursue a claim for a psychiatric or psychological injury, but are unsure whether you have a sufficient basis to make a claim, contact DBH Personal Injury Lawyers to arrange an obligation‑free appointment with one of our personal injury solicitors.

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